Iceland provides associations to and beautiful scenery. And Reykjavik is the obvious gateway to experience Iceland’s active volcanoes and hot springs.
The city itself is small enough for you to become pocket famous in a few days. But if you use Reykjavik as a base for exploring the surrounding areas of Iceland, the city will be a place to visit several times.
Reykjavik was once known for its enchanting nightlife, and in the 1990s became a trendy destination for hip urbanists throughout Europe. The nightlife is still good, but more enjoyable and charming than groundbreaking trendy.
Reykjavik is a relatively expensive city, also by our scale in Norway. If you only want to stay in Reykjavik, the summer months are best suited for visits. The winters are nowhere near as cold as the country’s name can give the impression, but a lot of rainfall and wind can make the visit a particularly sour experience. In winter time there is also only a few hours of daylight.
Get to know Reykjavik
Reykjavik is Iceland’s capital and largest city, and well over 60% of the country’s 306,000 inhabitants live in or around Reykjavik.
The city is located on a west-facing peninsula on Iceland’s southeastern coast and is the northernmost capital of the world, located at about the same latitude as Trondheim.
Iceland is a young nation, and Reykjavik’s growth did not begin until it was declared the capital of the new Republic of Iceland in 1944. Then began the migration from the districts and the transition from agriculture and fishing to modern industry and technology.
The Icelandic language must also be mentioned. It still has great similarities with the Norse from the Viking era, and the Icelanders protect their language with beak and claws. In Reykjavik, you will see or hear very few of the English words adopted by the rest of Europe, such as fast food and snack bar. Even the trendy bars and cafes have Icelandic names such as Kaffibarinn or Ölstofa.
Internationally, Iceland marked itself as the first nation to vote for a female president. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir ruled the country from 1980 to 1996, and became famous already in 1972 when she became the first single woman to adopt a child.
- Abbreviation: RVK
- Country: Iceland
Reykjavik city center
The oldest, central part of Reykjavik seems more like a small small town than an international capital, with its low wooden houses and relaxed atmosphere. Other parts are state-of-the-art, with shopping centers and commercial buildings in steel and glass, reminding you that Reykjavik is a relatively new city, with no magnificent historic buildings and monuments as in so many other capitals.
The natural center of the city is the Austurvöllur square, in what can be called the Old Town, which is roughly the area between the harbor, Lake Tjörn and the north / south Lækjar street. Here lies both parliament and the cathedral, and in the middle of the square stands a statue of the Icelandic independence defender Jon Sigurdsson.
The nightlife area of Reykjavik
The most important road to the east-west is the long shopping / pedestrian street that starts as Austurstræti on Ingolfstorg just off Austurvöllur. Further east it changes its name, first to Bankastræti and then to Laugavegur. Along these streets you will find the city’s largest concentration of bars, restaurants and cafes.
From Laugavegur, Skólavörthustígur stretches southeast towards Reykjavik’s most eye-catching landmark, Hallgrimskirkja. In this street are also some shops of the more exclusive kind.
To the west of the old town is the residential area of Seltjarnarnes on the Reykjavik Peninsula.
To the south lies the domestic airport, which also has international connections to Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Next to it is the hilltop Öskjuhlið, with the characteristic multi-house Perlan, with restaurant, the Sagamuseet, and an artificial geyser that sprays hot water on a regular basis.
The district of Hàaleiti east of the city center has gradually become an alternative and more modern business center in Reykjavik. The main draw is the large shopping center Kringlan with its 130 shops, restaurants, cinema and wine sales.
The rest of Reykjavik is mainly residential and of limited interest to visitors.
Facts about Reykjavik
Reykjavik is Iceland’s capital and largest city, and virtually all tourists visiting the country spend time here. More than 60% of the inhabitants of Iceland live in the area in and around Reykjavik.
|Population||Around 122,000 in the city itself, 330,000 in the region.|
|Religion||Lutheran Evangelical (86%)|
|Time Difference||Iceland is one hour after Norway, and two hours later in the summertime|
|Currency||Icelandic kroner. 100 ISK equals approx. 8 – 10 Norwegian kroner. NB Icelandic currency is known for large fluctuations. Visa and Mastercard are used almost everywhere, Diners and AmEx to a lesser extent. There are plenty of ATMs available.|
|Tips||Around 10% is common if you are satisfied with the service.|
|Embassy||The Norwegian Embassy is located in Fjólugt. 17. Tel: +354 520 0700.|
|Tourist||Aðalstræti 2, and at Keflavik Airport|
|Electricity||220/230 volts, the same two-pin contact system as in Norway|
|Holidays and Holidays||January 1st, Crescent Thursday, Good Friday, 1st Easter Day, 2nd Easter Day, May 1st, Christ’s Ascension Day, 1st and 2nd Pentecost, June 17 (National Day), 1st and 2nd Christmas Day. Also on the third Thursday in April and the first Monday in August.|
|Visa||Not required for Norwegian citizens|
|Vaccinations||No vaccines are required.|
|Water||Can be easily drunk from the tap.|
|Nearest major cities||Akureyri, Grindavik|
|Safety||Little violent crime, robbery and pickpockets are very rare. A little stuffing and noise in the center on weekends.|
List of Reykjavik Acronyms
The most commonly used abbreviations about Reykjavik is RVK which stands for Reykjavik. In the following table, you can see all acronyms related to Reykjavik, including abbreviations for airport, city, school, port, government, and etc.